The 17 Most Spectacular Sea Caves in the World

Written by Niccoy Walker
Updated: June 24, 2023
© Shaun Jeffers/
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Mesmerizing sea caves are found throughout the world. They form when wave action from the sea erodes sediments along coastlines, primarily in high-energy tidal environments. Over millions of years, the pure power of crashing waves erodes enormous caverns along the sea. And thankfully for us, they are breathtaking features to explore. Discover the 17 most spectacular sea caves in the world and learn why people love them so much.

1. Phang Nga Bay Caves – Thailand

Ao Phang Nga National Park
This is beautiful Phuket Island in Thailand, Ao Phang Nga National Park.


Rising vertically from the sea, Phang Nga Bay Caves are a geological wonder featuring sunken caverns and rock formations in Phuket, Thailand. You can kayak through these caves, along with lush jungles and mangroves, before lounging on the island’s beach. This destination is also famous for its appearance in the James Bond movie. 

2. Waiahuakua Cave – Hawaii

The Na Pali Coast features several sea caves that can be explored by boat.

©Abbie Warnock-Matthews/

Waiahuakua is the second-longest sea cave on earth, located along the Na Pali Coast on Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands. You can explore this volcanic rock, which has two openings, by raft or kayak. The cave also features a truly dazzling waterfall that drops straight through the cave’s roof.

3. Great Blue Hole – Belize

The great blue hole
The Great Blue Hole is an underwater sinkhole and submerged caves.


This giant underwater sinkhole is off the coast of Belize, about 60 miles near the mainland. The circular hole features caverns with stalagmite formations, which were present before the sinkhole opened. It is a popular spot for advanced scuba divers hoping to explore submerged caves and marine life. Jacques Cousteau named the Great Blue Hole one of the world’s top 10 diving sites.

4. Benagil Beach Sea Cave – Portugal

The Benagil Beach Sea Cave is a scenic attraction in Portugal.


Also known as Grotte de Benagil, this spectacular seaside cave sits near Benagil Beach in Portugal. It is only reachable by water and is well-known for the large hole in its roof and its picturesque cave beach. People boat, paddleboard, kayak, or even swim to reach this sea cave beach. The area is a tourist destination and can get quite congested, so you may not be able to stay at the beach for very long. 

5. Cenote Dos Ojos – Mexico

Cenote Dos Ojos in Quintana Roo, Mexico. People swimming and snorkeling in clear blue water. This cenote is located close to Tulum in Yucatan peninsula, Mexico.
Cenote Dos Ojos is a popular spot for snorkeling and diving.

©Simon Dannhauer/

True to its name, Cenote Dos Ojos is a pair of connecting underwater caves in Quintana Roo, Mexico. The two eyes are part of the Sac Actum cave system, which is a popular area for snorkeling and diving. Due to the crater, there is plenty of natural sunlight for spotting marine life and cave formations. Families with children can also visit with life jackets. But take a guided tour for the best experience.

6. Smoo Cave – Scotland

A view of the landmark Smoo Cave on the coast of the northwestern Scottish Higlands
Smoo Cave has a 50-foot entrance.

©makasana photo/

The Smoo Cave is both a saltwater and freshwater cave on Scotland’s northwest coast. Specifically, the cave is in Durness in Sutherland. You can walk to the cave from the parking lot. The entrance is pitch dark and 50 feet high. Once inside, wood paths bring you to a cascade and deep pool. Guided tours bring you deeper into the cave.

7. Grotto Azzurra – Italy

Dark inside of the Grotta Azzurra in Capri Island, Italy, for background
This Southern Italian cave features vibrant blue water.

©Takashi Images/

The Blue Grotto is in Southern Italy on the island of Capri. This underwater cavity features crystal-clear water with a vibrant blue color, which you can explore by wooded rowboat. The only way to enter the cave is by boat, and visitors are not allowed to swim due to the large waves that slam against the rocks. If you visit, be prepared to wait in long lines. 

8. Admiral’s Arch – Australia

Admirals arch on kangaroo island cave South Australia holiday destination eroded stalactites
The Admiral’s Arch features a platform that faces the ocean.

©Nomadic Exposure/

Located on Kangaroo Island in Flinders Chase National Park, this Australian cave features an arch-shaped rock formation and stalactites. Inside, you can view the ocean scenery from a platform that faces the ocean. You can access the platform by a boardwalk that reaches around the cave entrance. It’s a fun and scenic place to explore and sightsee in Australia. 

9. Playa de las Catedrales – Spain

Arch in the rock. Seascape in the morning. Rocky sea coast at sunrise. Beach Playa de Las Catedrales in Ribadeo. Galicia Spain Europe
These caves feature dramatic cliffs and arches.


Playa de las Catedrales is in the northwest region of Galicia in Spain. You can stay in the city of Coruna and visit the nearby As Catedrais Beach, which features dramatic cathedral-like cliffs and arches. You must go during low tide to enjoy all of the caves and natural scenery and make reservations in advance to secure a spot during the summer. 

10. Sea Lion Cave – Oregon, USA

USA, Oregon. Sea lions inside cave on coast. on coast.
Sea Lion Cave is a popular hub for wild sea lions.

©Danita Delimont/

This famous United States tourist attraction lies along the Pacific Coast in Oregon. The Sea Lion Caves are a connected system of sea caves and caverns within a wildlife preserve and bird sanctuary. As its name suggests, this cave is a popular hub for wild sea lions who like to hang out on the cave’s rocks as water flows in and out.

11. Cathedral Cove Sea Cave – New Zealand

Cathedral Cove marine reserve on the Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand
These limestone sea caves feature white sand beaches.

©Shaun Jeffers/

The breathtaking Cathedral Caves are connected limestone sea caves in New Zealand on Waipati Beach. The area consists of a volcanic coastline and features sea caves, white sand beaches, and blowholes. It’s about an hour’s walk to the cove from Hahei Beach, where you will descend the cliff top to the cove. Once there, enjoy swimming and picnicking.  

12. Apostle Island Sea Caves – Wisconsin, USA

Beautiful Sea Caves on Devil's Island in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Lake Superior, Wisconsin
The Apostle Island Sea Caves turn into ice caves during winter.


Located on the banks of Lake Superior in Wisconsin, the Apostle Island Sea Caves feature magnificent rock formations of pillars, arches, and intricate, snaking caves. During the summer, you can reach the caves by kayak tours. And in the winter, when the water freezes, you can view majestic ice caves.

13. Neptune’s Grotto – Italy

Neptune Cave, Neptune's Grotto, Sardinia, Italy
Neptune’s Grotto is a popular tourist attraction in Italy.


Discovered by fishermen in the 18th century, Neptune’s Grotto is a stalactite cave on the island of Sardinia in Italy. The easiest way to visit Neptune’s Grotto is by boat tour, so you can disembark and walk through the cave and take pictures. While the area is stunning and a must-see, it is a very busy and popular cave, with lots of loud crowds. 

14. Fingal’s Cave – Scotland

Fingal's cave Staffa island on the coast of Scotland
Fingal’s Cave features a large natural walkthrough and excellent acoustics.

©Lasse Johansson/

Fingal’s Cave is on an uninhabited island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. The Island of Staffa holds this natural wonder, which features a large walkthrough and magical acoustics. The volcanic basalt columns are enormous and have attracted visitors for hundreds of years. The best way to reach the cave is by boat tour, and you may also see puffins up close!

15. Chandelier Cave – Palau

Chandelier cave underneath Rock Islands in Pacific with glowing turquoise colored water and stalactites.
Chandelier Cave is popular amongst scuba divers.

©Erin Donalson/

Underneath the island of Ngarol in Palau, the Chandelier Cave is a four-chamber underwater system popular with scuba divers. Experienced divers only can experience this unique geological formation of hanging stalagmites and stalactites. A fifth chamber is completely above water and connects to the last two underwater chambers.

16. Painted Cave – California, USA

The beautiful and colorful Painted Cave at Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands.
Painted Cave is accessible by boat.

©Kris Clifford/

The Painted Cave is the fourth largest in the world by length and a natural wonder in the United States. This sea cave is located on the northwest end of Santa Cruz Island in California and is a popular recreational area filled with ancient history. The cave is accessible by boat and the historic park features rock art from the Chumash people.

17. Cuevas de Marmol – Chile

The blue colors of the marble caves in patagonia, chile.
These marble caves are in a remote part of Patagonia.

©Manon van Goethem/

Cuevas de Marmol is a unique marble cave system in a remote location along the rugged coast of General Carrera Lake in Central Patagonia. You can enter the mesmerizing chambers with small boats or kayaks and view the smooth marble formations and soft, glowing blue light from the water. While it’s a popular area, the caves can be difficult to get to and require a guide.

Most Spectacular Sea Caves in the World: A Recap of the Top 17

RankMost Spectacular Sea Caves in the WorldLocation
#1Phang Nga Bay CavesThailand
#2Waiahuakua CaveHawaii, USA
#3Great Blue HoleBelize
#4Benagil Beach Sea CavePortugal
#5Cenote Dos OjosMexico
#6Smoo CaveScotland
#7The Blue GrottoItaly
#8Admiral’s ArchAustralia
#9Playa de las CatedralesSpain
#10Sea Lion CaveOregon, USA
#11Cathedral Cove Sea CaveNew Zealand
#12Apostle Island Sea CavesWisconsin, USA
#13Neptune’s Grotto Italy
#14Fingal’s CaveScotland
#15Chandelier CavePalau
#16Painted CaveCalifornia, USA
#17Cuevas de MarmolChile

The Featured Image

Cathedral Cove marine reserve on the Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand
© Shaun Jeffers/

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About the Author

Niccoy is a professional writer and content creator focusing on nature, wildlife, food, and travel. She graduated Kappa Beta Delta from Florida State College with a business degree before realizing writing was her true passion. She lives in the Triangle area and enjoys hiking, reading, and cooking!

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